Monday, July 30, 2012

Vineman 140.6 - Race Report

I did it. I finished. It took me forever and it was hell, but I didn't quit.  
Thanks to my photographers - Chris, Greg, and Rex!

The start.
Saturday morning started at 3:52am when my alarm went off. I drank some coffee and surfed the web for about 30 minutes before I started getting ready. I felt good and it was great that my awesome sister was there, keeping me positive and helping me with everything. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to the bathroom before we left the hotel, but I figured there would be time for that once we got to the start. Friday it took us 28 minutes to get from the hotel to the start so we left Sat morning at 5:20 so we would have plenty of time before my swim wave was supposed to start at 6:40am.
Leaving the hotel 
Waiting to get into T1
The line to get to T1
Transition 1
The line to get into transition was ridiculous so by the time I got my stuff set up in T1 and got my body marked there was only 12 minutes before go time! Not enough time for me to wait in line for the bathroom, but enough time to get a few pics of me getting my wetsuite on!

Was the guy marking me drunk?? Totally asymmetrical. 
Can't wait to get started!
The swim (1:28).
We thought we had plenty of time, but then I heard the announcer say, "If you have a yellow cap, you have 30 seconds to get into the water".  So I hurried in, but was only knee-deep when my wave officially started. The swim part of the race was actually really enjoyable! It was a double out-and-back in the Russian River, which was fairly warm (not sure of the exact temp) and not too deep. They advised us in the pre-race meeting that "if you freak out or have a problem - don't drown, just stand up". Good advice. Luckily, the river was deeper than last year so it didn't impede my stroke, but still shallow enough that you could stand if needed. I did stand at one point to adjust the back of my wet suit. Unfortunately, I didn't learn from last year so my wet suit ended up chaffing the back of my neck pretty badly again. But I powered through and finished feeling really good. If I had it to do over I would have pushed harder. I feel like I had it in me to finish in 1:15, but I started out cautiously and didn't want to push too hard. Oh well, I'm pretty happy that it was under 1:30.

Transition 1 (7:14) 
T1 was pretty uneventful. I definitely took my time, but I wanted to make sure I had everything and got sunscreen everywhere (which, btw, hurt really bad on the sore that my wetsuit created on my neck!). 

The first 56 miles of the bike (3:35)
I was rocking the first half of the bike course!! My average speed was really good and I felt pretty good until about mile 40. That's when my stomach started really hurting. I was nauseous and when I pushed really hard on the bike, I had stabbing pains in my gut. Not only did that prevent me from enjoying how well I was doing, but it prevented me from eating as much as I should have - more on that later. Around mile 50 I heard a weird noise and noticed that my front tire was really low on air. So I pulled over and used my CO2 cartridge to pump it up, hoping that it would last until the next rest stop because I only had 1 CO2 cartridge and no hand pump so I didn't think I'd be able to change my tire. 

The bike course is 2 loops so after 56 miles I was passing through the T2/finish and got to see my cheerleaders!
Pulling up to my fan club :)
I am obviously not enjoying the race as much as Chris was enjoying cheering!
The second 56 miles of the bike (4:25)
Luckily, the next rest stop was around mile 60. I asked them if they had a bike pump and one of the volunteers grabbed one and came over to me and changed my tire for me! Technically, they're not supposed to help us, but since I wasn't exactly in the running to win it, he took pity on me. I was super grateful because he did it about 4 times faster than I could have. I was in and out of that rest stop in 11 minutes! I left there feeling a little rejuvenated and ready to tackle the rest of the race!
And that's when everything went to shit..... My stomach started hurting more and more, the wind started picking up, the heat got more and more intense, and my butt was really hurting from sitting on that bike so long!! So I kept getting slower and slower and slower. The first time around I grabbed gatorade and water and bananas as I passed the aid stations. The second loop I actually stopped at each aid station and took my time catching my breath and rehydrating. The last 10 miles of the bike were especially hard and I could not wait to get off that bike!!! I really cannot even put into words how much I was hating my bike!!

The run (6:12)
This was the worst 'run' I've ever had in the history of forever. My stomach problems may have started because I didn't get to go to the bathroom before the race (don't know why else?), but they were definitely compounded by the heat and the lack of food. So by the time I got to the run portion, I was seriously on the verge of hurling. Every time I tried to run, I was afraid I was going to lose it, so I had to walk. It was so aggravating that I cried a couple of times with frustration. My legs still had a lot of miles left in them (shockingly) so I could have had a really great marathon, but my stomach was not allowing that. Every single mile was a mental struggle to keep going. I honestly considered giving up after 3 miles of walking, but then I thought about it and did the math and realized that even walking most of it, I could finish before the cut-off. So I jogged the down-hills and walked the rest, resulting in a 14 min mile average. 

I finished the race with only 20 minutes left before the cut-off. Really disappointing. I mean, yeah, I finished. I'm happy about that because there were many many many miles when I was thinking that finishing was not a possibility. But running is usually my strongest sport and I know my legs had enough left in them for a really decent marathon..... stupid stomach. And I've never had stomach issues during races before!

So what happened?? When all was said and done I burned 8082 calories (!!) on Saturday. And all I managed to eat was: 1 banana, 2 GUs, 1 cliff bar, 1 oreo, 1/2 pb sandwich, and 2 fig newtons. That's probably only ~900 calories of food, plus gatorade, maybe only 1500 calories all day? I'm sure that didn't help my stomach! But it's impossible to eat when it's 90 degrees and sunny and you're extremely nauseous. Anyway, whatever the cause of my gastrointestinal issues - it sucked but I finished anyway. 

And now I'm done training and done racing and can get back to real life. Wait. I have no idea what regular people do on weekends anymore!! How am I going to fill my time?!?! Not sure yet, but I'm positive it won't involve biking!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Freak-out time!!

T-minus 5 days.... Holy fuck I can't believe it's almost race day!!!! Sure, I've been nervous the week before races in the past. But this is intense! I feel really under-prepared and the possibility of not finishing the race is terrifying!! But there's not much I can do at this point besides hydrate and sleep as much as possible this week. And to calm my nerves a little I'm working on my checklist of things to pack. It's really long, so I'm not going to post it here, but hopefully I won't forget anything! Chris gets here Wednesday (yay!) and we leave for Sonoma Friday morning. Friday afternoon there's a lot to do: packet pick-up, time the drive from the hotel to the race start, do a quick swim in the river, check into the hotel, and go to bed as early as possible so I'm as well-rested as possible for Saturday.... 

Schedule for Saturday.
4:00 am - wake up. I like to have plenty of time to eat, drink coffee, and get ready. If I'm in a hurry I'm going to stress out way more. And I have a feeling my stress levels are going to be high enough!
6:40 am - my swim wave starts.
9:37 am - swim course closes. That means I have just under 3 hours to finish the swim or I don't get to continue. My estimated chances of finishing the swim: 95%
8:00-8:30ish - Transition 1 - start the bike portion!
5:30 pm - bike course closes. Assuming the swim takes me 1hr 50min (which is probably an over-estimate), that gives me 9 hours to finish 112 miles; ie: I have to average at least 12.4 mph. This is totally doable, but my recent failures in training on the bike course have left me dreading this portion of the race. Chances of finishing the bike: 60-70%
4:30-5:30 pm - Transition 2 - start the run portion! Based on my previous rides, I will either not complete the cycling leg of the race, or I will average about 14-15 mph and finish in 8 hours-ish.
9:00 pm - run lap 3 cut-off. I have to start lap 3 (~17.5 miles) by this time or they won't let me continue. 
11:00 pm - race course closes. If I'm not done by this time, I can't finish. Chances of finishing the run: 95%. 

As you can tell, I'm least confident about the bike portion. The swim is not going to be fun, but I know I can do it and they give us more than enough time for even the slowest swimmers to finish that distance. The run is going to suck huge after killing my legs with 112 miles of biking, but I've run several marathons (last year without even training!) so I know that if I can get to the running portion, I can finish it. But the bike..... ug. I've had several training rides cut short because my legs were exhausted and mentally I couldn't continue. I keep thinking about those times and worrying that it's going to happen again. So here's what I'll be thinking about to keep me motivated on the bike:
Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
Although in my head it's going to be "Just keep going, just keep going, just keep going, going, going"
Right now the weather forecast is saying 88 degrees and sunny with 11 mph winds. Crap. The wind on that bike course can be brutal. And the run course is in the full-on sun. So this forecast is not exactly what I'd like to see (ie, the exact opposite of ideal). Hopefully they're wrong and it will end up being a perfect day with a high of 72, no wind, and slightly overcast! :)

If you'd like to track how my race is going, here's the website. Another huge thing that will be motivating me is the fact that I've announced to the world that I'm going to do this so now I've gotta do it! I'll be imagining all the people checking on my progress and how disappointed they'll be if I don't finish. Realistically, probably only 3 people will be checking on me, but I'm going to imagine that everyone I've ever met will be watching and judging my performance. That'll keep me motivated!

Also, my fan club is super awesome and will be there to support me the whole time (or at least most of the time). Thanks in advance to Chris, Greg, and Rex for being there!!!!!  I'm really grateful to have a cheering section and someone to bring me flip-flops and chapstick at the finish! Love you guys!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

First open-water swim!

Today I did my first open-water swim of the year - in the Bay! It wasn't nearly as cold as I expected. I was originally planning on going to Aquatic Park near Fisherman's Wharf in the city, but I didn't have anyone to go with me to watch my stuff while I swam. The parking by the wharf is usually crazy in the summer because of all the tourists so I didn't want to get stuck parking several blocks away and then walking barefoot downtown to get to the water. So instead, I went to the beach in Alameda where I could park right along the beach and leave my stuff in the car. It's really pretty there and the water is probably 10 degrees warmer than at Aquatic Park!
Pretty view of the bay and the city.
Here comes the summer fog!
Although it wasn't as cold as I dreaded, it was really choppy! I had a hard time keeping my regular stroke and breathing pattern and kept getting hit in the face with tiny waves - not fun, but good training for the beginning of the race when I will likely be hit in the face by water and other athletes. 

I only swam for 20 minutes, but even in just that short time, my wetsuit was badly chafing the back of my neck. Last year at the half ironman my wetsuit tore off many layers of skin on the back of my neck so I knew this could be a problem again. I used a lot of body glide, but it didn't really help. Next time I wear my wetsuit I'll try putting a big water-proof bandage on my neck to protect it. Hopefully that will do the trick because it hurt like a bitch last year and I do not want a repeat of that.

Yesterday I had a pretty good brick workout. 44 miles on the bike and then a 5 mile run. The ride was pretty challenging, with over 2600 feet elevation gain. 
The fog covering the bay area on the other side of Berkeley hills. Btw, I climbed up and over that huge hill earlier in the ride!!

I struggled a bit on the run. I think mostly because I had it in my head that today was an easy workout of only 44 miles so I didn't eat enough on the bike. But I still managed a pretty good pace on the run. I had been worried because I thought my running has been getting much slower in the past couple of months, but it turns out my Nike+ was getting farther and farther out of calibration. I re-calibrated it this week on the track and now I'm realizing that I'm actually faster than I was a few months ago. Sweet! Now I just need a little more transition practice so I don't start the run too fast at the race. 

Check out my new kicks! (compared to the old dirty, worn-out ones) Barton is thinking about attacking that stray shoelace.

Less than 2 weeks to go!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Let the tapering begin!!

Taper: verb. To reduce gradually. It's finally time to start winding down the training! I'm both excited and terrified. Tapering is way harder than it sounds. Mentally, it's brutal. As the race gets closer a few things usually happen:
1. The workouts get shorter and less intense so you feel like a slacker.
2. You're burning less calories, but supposed to be getting optimal nutrition and hydration, which means you probably put on a few pounds in the last few weeks. This makes you feel slow and lethargic so you assume that you won't be able to perform on race day.
3. Random shit starts hurting and, of course, you assume the worse and start panicking about what that means for your race.
4. Everything you do, eat, drink, and think about brings up the questions in your head: "how is this going to affect my race?" 
I am not looking forward to any of these things, but that's how it goes. It can't be helped. 

Rewind to last week....

Last week was my hardest week of training and it's all downhill from here!  Although technically it was my hardest week, it didn't feel that bad. Maybe it's because I only had 4 workouts?? Here's what I did:
Monday - Longest swim = 3000m
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - Longest run = 16.5 miles
Thursday - rest/hangover day
Friday - swim 2100m
Saturday - 77 miles bike/ 1 mile run
Sunday - rest/run errands (which was actually exhausting!)

I have been really disappointed with my brick workouts the past couple of weeks and Saturday was no exception. I started out the day planning on doing the whole bike course (112 miles) plus a short run (3 miles-ish). The bike course is 2 loops of 56 miles and I had it planned perfectly so that I had enough nutrition for 1 loop and then I would stop at the car and re-up for the second loop. I'm not sure if I didn't eat enough on the first loop, or if it was the heat (90 degrees), or what, but after the first loop I knew that I wouldn't make it around again. So I told myself to go out and back at least 15 more miles (86 miles total). I agreed to this plan for about 6 miles and then I realized that I just didn't have it in me. Thinking that maybe I didn't eat enough, I stopped for a few minutes and ate 1/2 of a peanut butter sandwich. I made it another 5 miles or so and had to stop again. Thinking maybe caffeine would help, I took a minute break to eat a GU with 2x caffeine. Then I made it about 4 more miles before getting out my phone and finding an alternate route back to the car with my GPS. Thus, I only did 77 miles. I was really frustrated and disappointed with myself. Actually, I still am. It's terrible to have my last long training ride be such a failure because I'll be thinking/worrying about it for the next 3 weeks..... which brings me to my next point....


I think it's officially freak-out time!!